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#BreakTheFake – Fighting Fake News: It’s On Us!

I – The Youth’s Role in the Fight vs Fake News

RIP, Avril Lavigne!” “The world ends September 23, 2017!” “#WalangPasok sa December 1!”

Fake news stories have been around for as long as world history. They are oftentimes amusing and too good to be true, but sometimes, they can sound plausible enough that a lot of people unwittingly believe false information and share it to others.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the unmitigated spread of fake news items, especially with the advent of the Internet, pose a serious problem to our society. At its core, the proliferation of fake news challenges people’s commitment to the truth.

Will we believe fake news items as long as it conforms to our political views? Conversely, are we gonna shun facts that don’t fit in into how we see the world?

Not agreeing with a certain news item doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “fake news”

National hero Jose Rizal has mused that the youth will be “the hope of the nation.” True enough, the millenials of today will be the leaders of tomorrow. However, how can they be effective future leaders when there is a very real possibility that their decision-making process can be influenced by deliberate attempts at misinformation?

The youth can play a big role in speaking out against attempts to turn our society into a nation that believes in lies and falsehoods. As future leaders, it is their responsibility to stop our ugly march towards that direction.

Given the high stakes, it is an imperative for the youth to do their share in this long-term struggle to fight against fake news. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways by which the youth can take part in this initiative to break the cycle of proliferation of fake news. Here are some tips:

1) Empower themselves with the capability to spot fake news items
With the explosion of information accessible within our fingertips, it is now an imperative to note the things we have to keep in mind in determining which information are true and which are false.

The youth should not fall into the trap of spreading falsehoods, especially through social media.

2) Promoting information literacy among the public –
After they’ve familiarized themselves with the ways and means of determining fake news, they must do their part in helping educate others about the dangers of fake news.

3) Observe critical mindedness at all times –
People should not just absorb everything they hear as the gospel truth – even if it came from personalities they support. It’s all about the information sources, baby!

People must be critical when gathering information, regardless of the medium.

4) Support initiatives meant to raise awareness known purveyors of fake news websites.

The youth are also highly encouraged to take their participation in the long and tough struggle against fake news by joining initiatives that expose those who spread falsehoods in whatever medium unhinged. Although they can already do significant things on their own, joining organizations like the “#BreakTheFake Movement” can amplify their collective actions even more.

II – What should the youth keep in mind to avoid falling for fake news items?

1) Read everything!
Website owners frequently use headlines that are bombastic sounding even though the contents of their stories aren’t necessarily that significant if only the readers will take the time to read beyond the headlines.
2) Verify before sharing.
The core of journalism is and will always be the discipline of verification! The ready availability of shareable information, both reliable and not, via the Internet has made it all the more important for people to be a lot more cautious before disseminating anything to their followers.
3) Cite your sources at all times.
People can write about whatever opinion they may have about anything under the sun, but their words will only have weight if these are grounded on facts.

“Opinion is free, but facts are sacred!”

4) Shun fake news websites.
The problem about the proliferation of fake news websites can also be viewed through an economic point of view.  These sites thrive because they have huge page views, which in turn gives them more ad revenues. If more and more people refuse to visit fake news websites, then they will lose the main incentive for their very existence.

5) Having a quote attached to a photo doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true.

Point made? 🙂

III – It Takes A Village To Fight Fake News

It is worth pointing out that the responsibility to fight fake news does not and should never rest on the shoulders of millenials alone. They can only do so much. Others should do their fair share, too.

1) The public in general and the media in particular should always demand accountability from everybody, especially political leaders. Every false statement they make should be exposed and never go unchallenged.

The media should demand accountability from those in power, especially when they spread falsehoods.

2) Nurturing the culture of truth-telling begins at home! Parents should always remind their children of the value of honesty at all times.

3) Educators, regardless of the level they teach, should inculcate the virtue of critical-mindedness to their students.

KEY TAKEAWAY: The increasing ubiquity of fake news stories is a very complex problem to deal with and fighting it requires everybody’s consistent effort. Remember, nobody’s too young to get involved in this struggle!

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